Comparison of regional vs systemic analgesia for post-thoracotomy care in infants

Alessandra Di Pede, Francesco Morini, Mary H. Lombardi, Stefania Sgrò, Raoul Laviani, Andrea Dotta, Sergio G. Picardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background In infants, post-thoracotomy analgesia traditionally consists of systemic opiates, while regional techniques have gained more favor in recent years. We compare the two techniques for thoracotomy in infants. Methods All consecutive patients below 6 months of age who underwent thoracotomy for congenital pulmonary malformations in the study period were retrospectively divided according to the chosen postoperative analgesia: Group S systemic opiates, Group R continuous regional (epidural or extrapleural paravertebral) block. We studied the following outcomes: need for NICU and mechanical ventilation, pain score, requirement for additional analgesics, heart rate 1 h postsurgery, time to pass first stool and to full feed, complications, and duration of hospitalization. Results Forty consecutive patients were included, 19 in Group S and 21 in Group R. Median age at surgery was 89 days (40-110) and 90 days (46-117), respectively. Five of 19 patients in Group S vs none in Group R required postoperative intensive care (P = 0.017). Patients in Group R had significantly lower postoperative heart rate (145 [138-150] vs 160 [152-169] b·min-1, P = 0.007), earlier passage of first stools (24 h [12-24] vs 36 h [24-48] P = 0.004), and earlier time to full feed (36 h [24-48] vs 84 h [60-120] P = 0.0001) than those in Group S. The only observed complication was one catheter dislocation. Conclusion In infants undergoing thoracotomy, loco-regional analgesia is effective and associated with a reduced intensity of postoperative care and earlier full feeding than systemic analgesia; it should therefore be considered a better option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-573
Number of pages5
JournalPaediatric Anaesthesia
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • analgesia
  • anesthetic techniques
  • epidural
  • infant
  • newborn
  • postoperative care
  • regional
  • thoracic
  • thoracotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Medicine(all)


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